George 'Hillbilly' Mahoney was one of the early country music performers
in the Boston - New England area, perhaps starting in the late 1920s / early 1930s.
Around 1946, he obtained a lease and ran a property in Webster, Massachusetts
that became known as "Indian Ranch". He ran the ranch until 1957 when
he retired. The property owner at that time took over the opeations
of the venue for about a year before selling out to the Sadowski family. They
owned the property until the early 2000s and sold the property.
Indian Ranch is still going and and is thought to be the longest
running such venue in New England; perhaps even the whole country.
Prior to buying the Indian Ranch property, he was part of an act called "George
and Juanita" and appearing on the Pinecrest Ranch shows. Juanita left to join
her fiddling brother, Buddy Durham in Maine. Then George hired his first "Dixie"
and began an act known as "George and Dixie". This first Dixie was Evelyn Holmgren,
who later married one of George's band members, Emo Sulkosky (also known as
Emo Carter). Jean Lyons was then hired to be the next 'Dixie' in George's
Juanita married Tony Tarquinio, formed a group with her brother Buddy and
after World War II, were working in Maine. Buddy then decided to embark on
a solo career effort.
George entertained the audiences listening over the Yankee Network, over
radio station WNAC out of Boston.
We have in our collection an old newspaper clipping about George and Dixie
that indicates their broadcasts on the Yankee Network for the Yankee House
Party was being heard over WNAC at 11:30pm. The article mentions that George
had been a part of WNAC since 1931. It stated that George came from the "rolling
plains of Cambridge" where he was born. His voice may have been familiar to many
or reminded them of places they once were. The article mentions George would
get letters from fans who thought they knew him "...out west...". In fact, at that
point, he had never been no farther west than the Capitol Theatre in Albany.
At the time the undated article was written, George had been entertaining folks
for 18 years. He was said to be adept at not only the guitar, but also the
trumpet, ukulele, harmonica, piano, banjo and mandolin. He was five feet four inches
and only an inch taller than Dixie, who was 22 at the time the article appeared.
The article gives us a flavor of how they were received or if they were able to
do a bit of their own publicists work, a bit of how they wanted to be perceived:
"Their lack of stature doesn't handicap them when they reach for high notes in their
yodeling, however, and they are ranked among the best hillbily singers in radio.
They are as well-known for their good natured banter as for their singing, and listeners
to the yankee House Party would be very disappointed if each day Dixie didn't take
George down a peg or two - but at least she's picking on someone her own size!"
Credits & Sources
- Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to thank Gordy Brown, of
the New England Country Music Historical Society for the photo and notes
for this group.
- "George And Dixie Are Youthful Air Veterans"; Undated